Monday, February 27, 2012

Taking Stock/Mindfulness 2012

Photo of the month:
This one step.... Florida, May 2001

Quote of the Month:
Your entire life journey ultimately consists

of the step you are taking at this moment.
There is always only this one step,
and so you give it your fullest attention.
-Eckhart Tolle

It is hard for me to believe this blog is in its 4th year! When I began, I thought there would be 6 or 7 posts....  and now several years later, there are more than 50.  I still feel as though I've scarcely scratched the surface.

Some of you may recognize this post from the first year, though so many new people have joined us on this journey since then.  Given my recent abrupt life change, my writing has taken a back seat for a (short) while.  I thought it might be fun and appropriate to re-run a few popular/meaningful posts.  This one is on mindfulness.

Mindfulness simply means that we are paying attention. Paying attention to what we are doing, what we are feeling and everything that happens around us in the present moment. Often we go through life on autopilot. We act or react unconsciously or out of habit. This does not allow us to choose our response to a given situation. With practice we can begin to take more control and switch off the autopilot, learning to be fully aware of our sensations, thoughts, emotions and responses.

Do not set a goal to be mindful ALL the time, just to be there as often as you remember to. NO ONE [except possibly those who live in the mountains at a monastery] can be mindful ALL of the time.  I even doubt that they are mindful ALL of the time!  Most of us are doing well, if we remember to be mindful for a few seconds, 2 or 3 times a day! Sometimes, I go whole days without remembering... so the idea here is to challenge yourself to do it as often as possible while at the same time being gentle with yourself!

One can think of mindfulness in the example of a tightrope walker. When walking on a high wire, one's attention can be no where else. The walker's full attention is on the step they are taking at that moment, the placement of the foot and where the weight is placed in the foot. I had a similar experience one winter walking down steep snow covered steps. It was of utmost importance to be aware of each step and where I placed my foot, so that I would not fall. Walking these steps daily for a number of weeks that winter helped raise my own mindfulness which has carried over into every day life.

There are a number of simple ways one can practice mindfulness in daily life. A posting on Oprah's web site listed a number of suggestions for increasing mindfulness. A few of those are listed below....

Breath - When you wake up in the morning before getting out of bed, notice your breathing. Take a few deep, comfortable breaths.  This can also be practiced at any time of the day!

Motions - Be aware of how your body feels as you move from lying down to sitting up, standing and walking.

Eating - Pay attention as you eat. Chew slowly and completely, and notice the textures and flavors of your food.  This is one that many of us can improve on!  I have taught my younger son to "savor" his food, especially dessert, which makes it enjoyable for a longer time!

Listen - When talking to another person, take a moment just to listen, appreciating the person's experience of the world, though it may be different from your own. Try not to begin formulating your own response until they have finished speaking.

Walking - Practice mindful walking, consciously placing your attention on each foot as it connects with and leaves the ground. (As I did on the snowy steps!)

Standing - When standing in line or waiting, use the time to feel your feet on the ground and notice how you are holding yourself.

I'll add - Completing Chores - doing repetitive chores with awareness rather than rushing through them to get finished. I have a friend who loves to wash dishes and another that folds laundry more peacefully than anyone I've every seen!

Once, while cleaning green beans [with my laundry folding friend] we seemed especially in the moment and enjoyed the actual process of cleaning the green beans together. This reminds me of how families came together in the past and prepared food together. This is something our fast-paced society misses out on in the drive through world today.  My simple suggestion this month is to do as Eckhart Tolle suggests in the quote above and give your full attention to the step you are taking at this moment, no matter what that step is.

Feel free to comment at the link below!

You may also enjoy the post titled...... "Are you Breathing?"
To read last month's post, simply scroll down or click here.... What's "Write" with the World? 

Until next month....
Keep your spirituality simple!


Gabriel said...

Excellent Peni!
Again you touch on something I am currently focusing on... being mindful of my mindfulness. It's helped me in so many ways: lately, I haven't gone a day without listening to the EXACTLY appropriate music on a drive. This seems simple, but for me it's huge. On the way to work in the past, I've fumbled through artists and albums, only to arrive not having listened to anything that would work as a soundtrack to the day.

Since I've been on this mindfulness kick, I can pretty quickly figure out EXACTLY what "sound" I need to start my day off correctly. It has been huge. Digging deeper, I'm even taking the time to fall in love with those songs again and really feel how they make me feel.

This whole notion of mindfulness has been an utter game-changer. Thank you, as usual, for your blogs that help supplement and sustain my current path.

Kent said...

Thanks for your reminders and the wisdom and clarity in your suggestions.